The environment affects the way we work. And that’s why remote work transfers have been so effective in recent times.
Until the COVID-19 epidemic in 2020, almost all conversations about office design centered on collaboration.
This was especially true in the technology industry. Companies (ranging from industry giants like Apple, Google, and Facebook) have come up with casual meeting spaces, spacious break areas, and open office plans.
Cooperation was king. And then COVID-19 happened.
All efforts to encourage and nurture water-cooling moments – spontaneous meetings that can give rise to creativity, collaboration and new ideas – have been washed away by the epidemic, the need for remote work and the subsequent resistance of employees to return to the office.
According to some directors and officials, this is a disaster.
But I do not agree. I think the distant work revolution will protect them from their own faulty thinking.
Deep thinking about deep work
In 2016, Cal Newport wrote a groundbreaking book entitled “Deep work: The rule of attentive success in the scattered world“
His central thesis is that our attention is increasingly diverted over time because of the evolution of culture in general and technology in particular. The more confused the workforce, the more “shallow” its work becomes.
“Shallow,” scattered work became the norm.
And “deep work” – concentrated, scatter-free work performed in a flowing state of mind – becomes rare and therefore more valuable.
A little better for collaborating in office work. But remote work a A lot Good for deep work.
According to the Cal Newport model, the workplace design drive around collaboration means prioritizing shallow work over deep but solitary work – and therefore, prioritizing low-cost success over high-value achievement.
Of course, the most favorable mode of work depends on exactly what is being done and the personality and tendency of the person doing the work.
It seems to me that a more significant percentage of the workforce will benefit from in-depth work on cooperation.
Most employees are not inventing advanced technology or developing marketing creativity. They are not doing something that requires extensive cooperation.
But almost all work benefits from concentration.
Perhaps two unreasonable biases drive the remaining choices for office work and collaboration-forward office design:
1. Managers prefer personal work experience of employees Interrupt them and talk to them on an ad-hoc basis – They used to call it “roaming management”.
2. Employees accustomed to working in the office need friendships, social interactions, and skills to “read” the emotional state of coworkers and bosses in order to feel connected to how they are working and what is happening.
These emotions are both somewhat habitual and confusing. They have emerged as a result of the office, not in any other way.
In a more perfect world, managers will have a better way of evaluating and communicating with employees than with interrupting employees and getting a “gut feeling” about how they are doing.
And employees will have a better way of determining their own performance and place in the team – and they will meet their innate human needs for social interaction from their social life, not by the corporation they work for.
The old office paradigm – collaborative space, open-office planning, touring management, and so on – sacrifices the activities that create the best-quality work (deep work practices) on the altar of collaboration (really valuable only for a minority) and interact. Unreasonable confusion about necessity.
Anyone who subscribes to Cal Newport’s concept of deep work – and I’m one of them – will understand the dominance of remote work rather than office work.
Also: Collaboration is something that software and cloud-based services will continue to improve.
But deep work is facilitated by elimination – scattering, interruption, and the need to work when the mind is not predominant for deep work.
Technology does not directly help us with deep work – only indirectly with the benefit of remote work.
In other words, with advanced technology, we get better remote collaboration. And remote work will benefit deeper work. So in the future we will get more of both.
It’s something to celebrate, not to resist.
The ultimate deep thought about ‘Flexodas’.
Wait, “Flexodas”? Do we really need another future-of-work buzz?
Yes. Yes we do.
Great resignation is driven in part by employees’ desire to have flexible working hours – working on their own schedule instead of the old 9-to-5.
It turns out that flex work is also good for deep work because everyone has their own maximum mental and physical time of day.
Some people do well at night. Others (like me, who get up at 4 in the morning) do better in the morning. Works well in some creative blasts. Others perform better by working in several different parts each day.
It’s time to dump her and move on.
1) Deep work is more valuable than collaborative work;
2) Technology will be developed to improve remote cooperation, and
3) Employees want to be successful, and if you let them work remotely and flexibly, they will find a way to the top of their performance.
Copyright © 2022 IDG Communications, Inc.